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As economy tanked, more Indians fell for scam sweepstakes

Monday, 21 July 2014 - 8:46pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna webdesk

It is official. Indians have an uncanny knack of believing that they are lucky enough to win lotteries they have not even taken part in! Almost all of us have received emails from "Nigerian authorities” of winning a lottery which asks to send a token amount to process the prize. Most of us have a good laugh over it. But there are people naive enough to believe that these emails are authentic. According to a new survey report, Indians have sent a whooping amount of $870 million to such fraudulent agencies. 

Nigerian Advanced Fee Frauds better known as the “419 scam” has lead to this huge outflow of money from India. What is alarming is that the amount being duped from unsuspecting Indians has increased exponentially. From merely $52 million in 2007, it has increased to $870 million in 2013. The increase has been specially stark in the last couple of years corresponding to the time when India was facing an economic depression. The amount was $410 million in 2011 and $660 in 2012. 

The research regarding the Advance Fee Fraud has been done by Ultrascan Advanced Global Investigations. According to them, the fraudstars particularly target people from developing countries where internet literacy is low and people have modest cash in their disposal. The "processing amount" is kept relatively low, which tempts people to take a chance to "redeem" their price.

Currently, around 4,700 people are working in India in close connection with rings outside India. Often these rings indulge in terrorist activities, which further heightens the gravity of the situation. According to the researchers, at present, 49 rings work in India making it the sixth largest internationally. 

In India, Kolkata has emerged as a hotspot for such scams. Often these are interlinked with different money laundering schemes aided by foreign countries. Thus an international scam racket is gaining power just by exploiting the greed of people.

Not only lotteries, fake visa and fake job scams are also rampant. The research has concluded that often people with a fragile state of mind fall prey to such scams. It is a menace which is slowly but steadily eroding the base of the economy. It is high time the government cracks its whip and nab culprits behind it. Also, people must be cautious and remember that happy coincidences are mostly stuff of legends. 

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